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|Is Google invading your content yet by provider the answer?|
This isn't a typical search and answer. This is a "mind blown" scenario and should be quite alarming to well, pretty much anyone and everyone who has a stake in providing a website. Isn't that all of us?
So, today I decided to search this: (insert popular video game name) create account
Based on those terms, I was provided a box listing those steps in creating that account. At the end of the bullet list of about 5 steps, in grey (not a link) it says "1 more item".
Yes, there is a link within that box at the bottom.
To be clear, this for me is different. It's unnerving. It makes me realize one thing. Apparently no search is safe. I can understand sports scores, world cup scores, movie times, restaurant menus, etc being on Google pages, but this one today takes the cake.
This indicates to me how invasive this is becoming. It's quite clear that this trend will evolve until the point of human intervention. In other words, until your content or information is stripped off your own pages you will ignore the situation. It won't be until mass amounts of people start seeing their content or information being used in a way which cuts you out. You're going to become the middle man. Only needed as a reference link, and your information becomes the king for somebody else to eat and enjoy.
Maybe the "wow" moment hasn't come for you. Today, the "wow" moment just happened. It's not just Google of course, but since I use them for search, it's the first time I've seen such an abstract search show up with the information on Google's url rather than proving me a link. Nice for me, but I know what's fair, ethical and proper. This will come to a head, but perhaps not in my lifetime.
Get ready to be trampled.
|This isn't going to affect anyone that has deep content....Google has been telling us for years that we need to have meaningful content. Knowledge graph is something to open your eyes and see the type of generic content you should avoid. |
That's a great observation. It's also going to be unpopular with a lot of people, because creating "deep content" or "meaningful content" is a lot of work--and it requires more than technical or SEO skills, which (in many cases) is going to mean spending money.
|That's a great observation. It's also going to be unpopular with a lot of people, because creating "deep content" or "meaningful content" is a lot of work--and it requires more than technical or SEO skills, which (in many cases) is going to mean spending money. |
It doesn't matter if it's unpopular. You have to work for your money harder than ever on the Internet. If you've done everything right from the start and have meaningful, deep content then you don't have to worry as much. Being lazy doesn't work anymore. Google is consistently weeding out the weak with algorithm updates.
Isn't the point of creating content to make it deep/meaningful?
I've always focused on that over SEO skills, but maybe that explains why Google keep tanking my site.
Is g going for the lowest common denominator these days? After all, if the "answer" is on their screen...
Deep content by itself will not save a site.
What has changed is that the big SEs (and I'm including Bing in this as well) are showing a bit more than they used to, which means there's a bit less reason why the user has any reason to click that link...
And it all goes back to the print media suit, kiddies, regardless if you might think this is "different". It isn't. So that ship has sailed and this is what we have to look forward to. Remember all those news aggregator sites back a few years ago rootin' for g to win so they could keep doing what they had been doing? It all comes home to roost, as they say. Most of them are out of biz these days because G and B have already posted it... at the top of the serps.
"flight arrival time american 101" is a good example of this type of thing. American Airline's site isn't even above the fold. I can't imagine they like it that way...their landing page is trying to upsell Aadvantage membership.
Nice one. I'm confident at some point even the most obtuse executive will wake up. Something along the lines of "what's in it for me?" or "where did they get that information from?" or perhaps "isn't that commercial use of that information?" or "how do we get people to sign up to our newsletter if they aren't getting to our page?" or "how do we let people know about next weeks deals when the customers aren't getting to the site?".
It's an interesting dilemma right now for myself trying to decide what move to make. I want to write useful content, but for that to happen, generally you need to be answering some type of question. If I'm competing against Google and Bing in that regard? It's making me look at return on investment at this point. A short lifespan of revenue generation is hardly a prudent investment of time and effort. I guess it's ironic to think that you need to start coming up with content that can't be answered, yet be useful. To me that's an oxymoron that most small scale webmasters should be evaluating.
I must admit this is something that is really bothering me. We all work very hard to provide interesting, unique and helpful content on our sites and it feels like Google is just swooping in and taking that without any reward to the site owner.
I know there is a lot of bitterness towards them these days, myself included, but this just takes it a step too far. Small website owners such as myself can't take them on, but I do hope one day they are held accountable. We all want to make money, but it seems that these days they want us to do the work for them and then take all the benefit.
I work 7 days a week adding new content to my website, why should I do that for Google to come along and just take it, giving users no reason to visit my site?
I'm very uncomfortable with the whole thing but feel absolutely powerless to stop them.
One interesting piece of irony here is that Google reacts strongly if you write your own scraper to scrape Google products and present your own users with distilled "answers".
For example, back in 2012, they used their Adwords contracts with various SEO tool vendors to pressure them into dropping their SERP reporting tools.
They have done the same with a number of sites using Google maps data in ways that Google objected to.
Update - Did a search today: how many minutes are in a round of mma
Nice box with answer. I guess this is just going to keep widdling and widdling away. Did I check the source link? No. Why should I? One less site I needed to visit today to get what I needed.
It's the obscure nature of these searches that I find quite alarming, but I tend to think I'm having a conversation with myself about it. Oh well.
Should I hope to be that one source that's within the information/answer box? I suppose being listed #2 for that SERP is almost laughable considering I didn't even click the link under the information. Is being that site listed in the box a reward? Should be the goal of all webmasters? Thoughts?
|"flight arrival time american 101" is a good example of this type of thing. American Airline's site isn't even above the fold. I can't imagine they like it that way...their landing page is trying to upsell Aadvantage membership. |
So what? AA's Flight Status page for AA nnn is extremely sparse, compared to pages of other flight-tracking sites that show maps, on-time performance data, etc. It shouldn't rank high. There's no "value add."
As for Google scraping real-time flight data, the only thing it's "scraping" is the feed that it gets from Flightstats.com, whose APIs are also used by online travel agencies and other large travel sites.
There is a difference between indexing content and scraping it. Google's intentions in this case are clearly to keep users on Google and not forward traffic to the author's websites. In the name of a "good user experience" webmasters are getting ripped off by the largest scraper in the world - Google.
I think I asking out loud that it appears quite random, but seems to be happening more and more. I'm inquiring about how many minutes are in a round of mma and I'm expecting links, not answers. I'm getting answers though. This to me is a real head scratcher in terms of how to approach SEO and ranking. Is there a solution in other words. Perhaps the goal should be to get my text in that box. That leaves me asking the question. If the answer is in the box, then isn't the link to my content completely redundant? If it's not redundant, then please explain. How do we SEO our way out of this one?
|brotherhood of LAN|
It's a totally valid question MrSavage, I've believed for a long time that a company with a mission statement like Google's would eventually want to host all the content themselves. Certainly in "organising the world's information" they have and will squeeze out other people who could've had the eyeballs on their own site.
>How do we SEO our way out of this one?
As said already, if a site is in the business of producing factoids or general knowledge then it seems they're in for a rough ride. Saying that, a site that is so user friendly and useful to people will surely remain popular, used and even rank well in Google, regardless of knowledge boxes. Having a toolbar specific to your site could even get round the laziness of people using Google to find pages on your site.
Providing opinion, services or products are things Google definitely won't be replacing any time soon.
|Providing opinion, services or products are things Google definitely won't be replacing any time soon. |
Or providing in-depth information, for that matter--i.e., the kind of information that can't be squeezed into a knowledge box.
Google likes to do things that lend themselves to automation, and that are scalable. That's why it makes sense for Google to, say, license flight-status data from Flightstats.com and display it at the top of a SERP.
It clearly does not make sense for Google to jump through all the hoops that Flightstats.com does to obtain, sort, and analyze that data, just as it doesn't make sense for Google to commission biographies of Catholic saints, war news from Afghanistan, studies of intracranial stenting, or accounts of John and Jane Doe's round-the-world honeymoon trip.
If you're hoping to earn a buck by doing exactly what Google, Bing, and other search engines can easily do (displaying the current time and temperature, telling what a kilogram is in pounds), then you're way past saving.
|If you're hoping to earn a buck by doing exactly what Google, Bing, and other search engines can easily do (displaying the current time and temperature, telling what a kilogram is in pounds), then you're way past saving. |
One of the interesting aspects of the knowledge graph is the way it devalues facts, from the webmaster's point of view. So there's considerably less ROI in going out and gathering any information that might be in that box, whilst the scope of that box is expanding.
Deep content is made up of chunks and chunks of shallow content. People often arrive looking for the quick answer, but stay because they're tempted by more comprehensive articles. So it's a gateway. I don't think you can categorise websites neatly into those who use basic facts and those that go deeper, because even the deep ones have some reliance on simple facts to drive some traffic.
It may sound a little sarcastic, but Google cares about their users too. That means, when user has to leave the site (ie. google.com), it is not as good user experience as staying on the site and getting the answer right there. Another example: 'what is my IP' :).
In terms of strategizing or SEOing in this new environment, I agree that opinion based content appears safe. I've spent some time thinking this over and I'm not even sure how safe opinion content is.
If I want best phone, now you get SERPS with big tech sites. Fast forward in time and why wouldn't this evolve so that the answer box just provides a boiled down summary? It could simply show this phone is 4 out of 5 stars from Site A, 4.5 out of 5 stars from Site B, etc. Saves having to go to websites and as people said, it's so great for the users because they don't have to go anywhere.
I'm not getting into the paranoia here, but looking at where this is at now vs a year, it's impossible to say it's going to stop at opinion based content.
I'm just hoping somebody here can explain to me how my link is not redundant when the actual answer is provided in the box above my link. The point of my link is what? So people can cross reference? No idea. It's like a footer. People read that stuff? Here's the link if you don't believe what is printed in the box even though the content is "from" (I'll use from to describe it, but you use whatever term you feel to describe what this really is) that source link? Is there a way to somehow get people from reading that answer to actually needing to click the link to my site? In a restaurant it would be like ordering an entree, and then after eating that entree, to be asked if you would like to order another entree. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
I find it a bit comical about what's good for the user. To be honest, what's good for me is being able to listen to music for free or watching movies for free. To me, that's great and if such a source existed and is providing me that content, I'm not too worried about. In fact YouTube isn't bad for catching up on TV shows or watchging movies. If you have lazy copyright owners, full movies for free.
Perhaps this will be a clearly divided situation where discussing facts, procedures or instructions are simply dead areas of traffic for webmasters. When the likes of Bing and Google decide to take over information I guess the opportunities to exist online as a webmaster are truly numbered.
|When the likes of Bing and Google decide to take over information I guess the opportunities to exist online as a webmaster are truly numbered. |
I don't happen to think so, but for those who do, it may be time to re-evaluate. It's not going to get easier in the future.
When you decide you have no options, then you probably don't.
For a slightly different take on this, search for something medical like 'palpitations causes'. In the results here I see a list of all the main causes and then a link to the site they came from, in this case a US government site.
Although I'm not familiar with it I'm pretty sure the US gov health site isn't poor quality and a quick glance suggests it has a detailed article about the subject. They are not just producing a site that any old tom dick or harry could do (as with weather or flight times), but are spending a lot of time and resources on making the site instructive.
A couple of years ago I seem to recall that sites that just produced a list of medical symptoms and called it content were all penalised quite heavily, but is that not very similar to what google search is now doing?
|If the answer is in the box, then isn't the link to my content completely redundant? If it's not redundant, then please explain. How do we SEO our way out of this one? |
If all the information you have to provide can be crammed into a Google knowledge box (or Bing's equivalent), then you're like the guy with a simple calculator program whose world crumbled when Windows 95 included a calculator. Like the old song lyric said, "I beg your pardon / I never promised you a rose garden."
@netmeg, what I mean by the days are numbered is this. Imagine we are webmasters that exist on a large island. As the island starts to shrink and shrink, everyone is going to be competing for that very small chunk of the island. As this is seemingly evolving and not going away, it appears to me that the island is shrinking. If I was going to sell a lot on a shrinking island? To me that's not a wise investment unless I think highly of myself that I'm going to be one of the last remaining islanders. Even then, will that be a fun existence? Of course I'm not talking about this happening overnight. It seems somewhat gradual at this point, but if you play it out over the long haul, I don't really see another more positive scenario for simple webmasters.
But aside from the big picture, I'm still trying to get an answer (no pun intended) explaining how to benefit from the box. As in, if there is a box answer, can anyone explain to me how every SERP below, not just the one in the box, suddenly are 100% redundant? Seriously, WTF is the point of clicking links when I just apparently got the answer? Sure, I may not believe what is written in the box and that might be the ONLY reason for even listing links to websites.
On a side note, is this related to Cutts vacation? ;-)
|Imagine we are webmasters that exist on a large island. As the island starts to shrink and shrink, everyone is going to be competing for that very small chunk of the island. |
I dunno about you, but I would be on to another island WAY before it got to that point. Or at the very least, finding a way to eliminate the others.
|Sure, I may not believe what is written in the box and that might be the ONLY reason for even listing links to websites. |
As has been said before, if your value can be completely covered by what Google puts in that box, then you need to rethink your business model.
I'm in events. 90% of the time now, on long tail queries, it's my information in the box - Google will tell the user the date and time of the event, and the link will be to one of my sites.
But Google won't tell them the other attractions happening during that event, or where the other nearby events will be, or where to park, or how much it costs to get in, or how to donate, or whether it's been cancelled at the last minute, or the user reviews/ratings of the event, or how to be a vendor at that event, or how to register for a contest at that event, or give them a map directly to that event address, or...
For some users, that's all they want, and it's useful to them, and they won't ever come to my site. I can live with that. They're probably not my target users anyway, and it's not like they wouldn't find the information somewhere anyway - nothing is truly unique on the internet.
But for what it's worth, my traffic across all sites is like twice what it was last year (including the 15 year old site that I thought had pretty much leveled out as far as growth)
So if you want to "SEO" your way around the box, you have to first make sure you have a business model that can't be entirely served by Google, and then you have to make sure that it's patently obvious that you have more value to offer than what's in the box. And you'll probably have to keep coming up with new ideas and adding value, because Google will keep updating the box themselves. In other words, you have to get creative. And no, it won't be easy. Either you're up for it, or you aren't.
(And for what it's worth, I rethink my business model at least every other month. Everything has a shelf life. Everything.)
Thanks for that insight netmeg. I guess at this point I don't see a cut and dry safe zone on this. I'm not suggesting that in one year from now it's game over for myself. I would dare to say that I can in fact move forward in an area that "should" be safe. However, since Bing and Google would be competing with each other, then what's safe today won't be safe tomorrow. Who knows what's left in the aftermath.
If I have been seeing simple facts in the box, then I wouldn't be posting this thread. It's the fact that I'm seeing more oddball answers that aren't "typical" is the main point of even bringing this subject up (again).
So if you think today that writing a review of a product is safe from the box, why is that? I'm all ears. Why can't Google and Bing just do a comparison box showing the most key aspects of reviews that are out there? Surely nobody here is going to suggest that review/opinion is a cut/dry simply informational inquiry. I'm just asking if you think that a comparison box is out of the question, why do you conclude that?
@netmeg are you concluding that with your doubling of traffic that the info box is leading to that increased traffic? As in are you hoping to see more of your content in that info box now and in the future? I'm curious. Or will the evolution of the box just start including more details. I mean what's stopping a Google from just including more and more? If it's faster for users, then why wouldn't they make the box info more inclusive?
I'm not even sure if this is considered an answer box or informational box. Lot of questions I know. Perhaps SEOing through this going to mean ditching sites and creating something new all together.
|But Google won't tell them the other attractions happening during that event, or where the other nearby events will be, or where to park, or how much it costs to get in... |
Exactly. And you do. You have the willingness and the skills to provide the "value add," and Google rewards you for it with traffic.
|But Google won't tell them the other attractions happening during that event, or where the other nearby events will be, or where to park, or how much it costs to get in... |
|then what's safe today won't be safe tomorrow. |
I dunno who ever promised you "safe" but you should go punch them in the throat. There is no "safe".
|I'm just asking if you think that a comparison box is out of the question, why do you conclude that? |
Where did I say that? Nothing is out of the question (and nothing is "safe") the goal line is always moving. And reason (hopefully unclouded by emotion) tells me that Google is only going to devote so much real estate to the Knowledge Box (at least in the short term) and once again - for people who want Knowledge McNuggets, that's not who I am going after.
|@netmeg are you concluding that with your doubling of traffic that the info box is leading to that increased traffic? |
Nope, I'm making no such conclusion. But from what I'm seeing now, it's not causing me hurt. I've no doubt they will make the box more inclusive, but by the time they do, I will either be several more steps ahead of them, or on to something else.
Look the KB is reality. It's here. It does me no good to rail against it, because it's not going anywhere. I don't particularly hope to see more of my content in the box, but I'd rather see mine there than someone else's.
Yea, but while Google provides the majority of my traffic at the moment, I still have lots of other channels, and they're growing too because adding that value helps there too.
That's the way I run my sites and my business. Like I say, it's not for everyone. But I have mouths to feed and a retirement (not as far off as you'd think) to fund, so I don't have time to do anything BUT think outside "the box"
[edited by: netmeg at 4:38 pm (utc) on Jul 8, 2014]
I think the last thing I'm doing right now is making predictions as to what won't get used in the box. From where it was at first, to where I've seen it lately, I would call it invasive and evolving. Perhaps we're going to have to decide if our websites today have proprietary content or not.
There are a great many people on these forums who are smarter than me and I'm interested to know if getting into that box is actually the holy grail of webmasters or not. I guess the question is whether a link (a #1 position) is better for me than getting a results page with my content in that box. See, it's the debate whether it's "my" content or not and because there isn't a real "opt out" button, then my site auto qualifies to be the chosen one for the box. I think that could change. Either that or as Cutts asked recently, perhaps Google is looking at paying out for the info/answer box content. If anything, I would be happy with such a move and even though my site might not get the visitor, at least I can make money on what I've put together on the place formerly known as the WWW.
I think with this discussion I'm realizing that organic is quickly (or not so quickly over the last few years) becoming deadsville. Perhaps from this discussion, it's safer to move forward on the premise that rankings and "free" traffic is pretty much over. I'm talking long term planning. I've been able to remove my dependence on Google rankings for traffic, but perhaps my thinking needs to go one step further. If I consider organic all but dead in terms of long term business planning, perhaps that's going to take some pressure off.
@ netmeg (and others who are proactive and adapt)
You're a smart frog, jumping out the pan before it gets too hot and into another.
But I think eventually there will be no more pans to jump into - at least as far as SEARCH goes. Whatever you put online can be spidered and scraped. You add value by going beyond that which can be scraped... for now.
Diversifying beyond Google is a whole 'nother thing. When the best (and most consistently given) advice in the Google SEO forum is 'Don't count on Google' then we're not too far from having a redundant forum, no?
|When the best (and most consistently given) advice in the Google SEO forum is 'Don't count on Google' then we're not too far from having a redundant forum, no? |
Well said. Developing diverse traffic acquisition strategies has long been the important topic. That fact is just now becoming more apparent to many is all. Time to start thinking of Google as gravy and not as the main course (if you haven't already started thinking that way).
|And reason (hopefully unclouded by emotion) tells me that Google is only going to devote so much real estate to the Knowledge Box (at least in the short term) and once again - for people who want Knowledge McNuggets, that's not who I am going after. |
I'd add that Google doesn't seem terribly interested in site owners who publish Knowledge McNuggets, either. A publishing strategy based on bite-size, keyword-targeted pages and SEO might have been just the thing ten years ago, but today? Probably not.
|Deep content is made up of chunks and chunks of shallow content. People often arrive looking for the quick answer, but stay because they're tempted by more comprehensive articles. So it's a gateway. I don't think you can categorise websites neatly into those who use basic facts and those that go deeper, because even the deep ones have some reliance on simple facts to drive some traffic. |
Exactly. It's not really a matter of building a business out of Knowledge McNuggets (great phrase).
Of course the response is to try to immunize the site from being pillaged by the Google Graph but certain keywords are inevitably lost as traffic lures. The Graph is in Google's interest, not ours. We have to scramble to keep up and hope for the best when our business model conflicts with Google's.
Google will get away with this and more because webmasters do not form an organized lobbying group to press for any limit to what Google wants to do. German publishers are dragging Google into court for a piece of Google News revenue. And why not? They're organized. Should they change their business model? They'd rather sue and they have that option.
The MPAA and RIAA want Google to remove links to copyrighted content in the SERPS. They may not have a legal leg to stand on but they can at least get legislators to pay attention. No one is telling them that a business model based on copyrighted content is foolish and misguided even though it probably is.
If the business model of many webmasters is doomed, it is not because they (we) are fools. It is because we are outgunned and we don't have the clout to protect our interests.
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